The Hoppy Okapi

A 2012 Pacific Crest Trail Adventure

Bring On the Barley: Spent Grain Crackers November 7, 2009

Filed under: baking,beer,bread,San Diego — Amanda @ 18:06
Tags: , , , , ,
Barley Blend from Chocolate Porter

Barley Blend from Chocolate Porter

Inspired by the spent grain flatbread I’ve had at Stone World Bistro (where it’s now called “Brewer’s Barley Cracker Bread”, perhaps because non-brewers are squeamish about the phrase “spent grain”), I took advantage of Chuck’s recent batch of Chocolate Porter to try my hand at making these treats. I searched for recipes in my numerous baking cookbooks and online, and found several recipes for spent-grain bread, but none for crackers. While reviewing the flatbread section of The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook, I decided that the malted barley is kind of like rolled oats, and so an adaption of the “Scottish Oat Cakes” recipe would be my jumping off point for my spent grain crackers.

Recipe for Scottish Oat Cakes, with Spent Grain Markup

Recipe for Scottish Oat Cakes, with Spent Grain Markup

I wanted my crackers to be part whole-wheat, and wanted to use less butter, oil, and sugar than in the oat cakes recipe, and I was hoping the residual moisture in the barley from the beer-making would help bind the crackers together.

I started out with 2 cups lightly packed barley which had been boiled from the beer and then mostly drained.

IMG_3833

Two cups packed barley

I combined the barley with one cup each King Arthur All-Purpose flour and King Arthur Whole Wheat flour, added two tablespoons brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.

IMG_3854

Mixing the dry ingredients

I then added 1/2 cup butter, slightly softened, and 4 tablespoons shortening, and creamed those into the flour and barley mixture. After mixing in the butter and shortening, I had a dough that held together loosely. I recommend adding 2-4 tablespoons of water to make the dough more cohesive, since my baked crackers had some crumbly edges.

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Cracker dough after mixing in butter and shortening

The recipe recommends rolling out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cutting it into rectangular crackers, but I was going for a more rustic look. I used a cookie scoop to get uniformly-sized balls of dough, then squished them down to about 1/4 thick:

Dough sqiushed into disks, before baking

Dough squished into disks, before baking

I then baked the crackers at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, until fairly crispy. The resulting crackers had the flakiness of a pie crust, with extra chewiness from all the barley. The whole wheat flour and barley gave the crackers sweetness, but they weren’t overwhelmingly sweet.

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Spent grain crackers, just out of the oven

We had the crackers with our dinner that night, as part of a cheese plate. We had three cheeses from Taste cheese shop -  Mimolette, Barely Buzzed (made with coffee – my favorite!), and Shropshire Blue.  We also paired our dinner with Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point.

Cheese Plate with Baguette and Spent Grain Crackers

Cheese Plate with Baguette and Spent Grain Crackers

Sculpin IPA

Sculpin IPA

These crackers are a fun and tasty way to use some of the barley from beer-brewing, and I recommend making them if you get the chance!

 

Moo! A Day at the Cow Parade June 2, 2009

Filed under: art,day trips,San Diego — Amanda @ 21:21
Tags: , , , , ,

On Sunday afternoon, Chuck and I finally got to see a Cow Parade, the wonderful public art/fundraising project in which fiberglass cows are adorned by local artists and displayed throughout a city. The Cow Parade is on display through June 14th in La Jolla, the seaside enclave famous for fabulous beaches (and controversial seal colonies). We had a lot of fun walking around town to see the cows, and saw three or four other groups of people walking from cow to cow as well. Of course, we also took a mid-parade break for beers and wings at La Jolla Brew House, where we especially enjoyed Night Shift, a Belgian-style IPA, and Zomer Brun, a Belgian-brown ale.

Here’s our cow parade gallery:

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! March 16, 2009

Filed under: beer,cooking,holidays,home — Amanda @ 20:44
Tags: , , ,

We’re celebrating with our favorite semi-Irish feast:  home-corned beef (with spices from penzeys), sweet potato fries, and Devotion Ale from the Lost Abbey.

Cheers!

St. Patrick's Day Feast

St. Patrick's Day Feast

 

(Almost) Everything Else I Did In December January 3, 2009

Eeeek! It’s already 2009, and I still have at least three posts to write from last year, plus all those activities I never got around to blogging! December was actually quite a busy month – we went to four concerts, did a lot of cooking, had a creole-chocolate dinner, and drank some fun beers! Here’s a pictorial tour through December, not necessarily in order:

Serpent’s Stout, another great beer offering from The Lost Abbey:

Serpant Stout from The Lost Abbey

Serpents Stout from The Lost Abbey

We saw Po’ Girl in concert for the second time this year, again thanks to Acoustic Music San Diego:

Po Girl

Po Girl

We ate a dragon fruit!

We ate a dragon fruit!

We attended the Creole Christmas chocolate tasting dinner at Eclipse Chocolat (I’m definitely looking forward to future dinners there!)

Smoked Tomato-Crawfish Bisque

Smoked Tomato-Crawfish Bisque

Truffles from Eclipse

Truffles from Eclipse

We saw Kenny Eng, Dave Booda, and Veronica May (an awesome musician AND Take Lessons music instructor!) at Lestat’s :

Veronica May

Veronica May

Dave Booda

Dave Booda

We drank another of our Bruery beers:

Saison Rue - The Bruery

Saison Rue - The Bruery

I made a cornbread recipe from Red Sage for our Christmas dinner:

Cute little corn sticks!

Cute little corn sticks!

We visited the Main Tap Tavern in El Cajon (yep, East County finally gets a good beer bar AFTER we move!)

Sampler at Main Tap

Sampler at Main Tap

Chuck got a new tapir:

Chuck and his new stuffed tapir

Chuck and his new stuffed tapir

With our sourdough pizza, we drank Nørrebro North Bridge Extreme IPA, one of my picks from our trip to the Bottle Shop at Pizza Port Carlsbad (and possibly the first Danish beer I’ve had!)

Northbridge Extreme IPA

North Bridge Extreme IPA

I tried to chase Athena out of my gym bag:

Athena in the bag

Athena has a New Years resolution to hit the gym!

Went to Lestat’s (again!) for Josh Damigo’s birthday concert, with Rob Dees and Bushwalla:

Rob Dees

Rob Dees

Josh Damigo

Josh Damigo

Bushwalla

Bushwalla

Drank Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout:

Lagunitas Cappucino Stout

Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout

And to top it all off and ring in the new year, we went to an awesome concert at the Casbah: Steve Poltz and the Cynics, Gregory Page, the Truckee Brothers, and the Rugburns!


Photo from Flickr member: Soaked In Sin

 

Whirlwind Weekend: Austin November 24, 2008

So, let’s say you have two and a half days to spend in Austin, Texas; can you: visit two taco shops; eat at two barbecue restaurants; sample beers from four local breweries; visit two museums; see some music; buy some cowboy boots; buy a couple of local books AND get your picture taken with a giant orange longhorn? You betcha! Follow along for the tale of one whirlwind weekend in Austin!

Texas Capitol, Night

Texas Capitol, Night

We landed in Austin around 2:30 in the afternoon on Saturday. Since we left San Diego ultra-early, I hadn’t bothered eating breakfast, so naturally we headed straight for tacos. We stopped at Taco Xpress, the first of three(!!) stops on our trip that Rachael Ray also visited on her Austin $40 a Day episode.

Taco Express

Taco Xpress

Taco Xpress was fun, with colorful decor and an impressive variety of tacos. To maximize our exploration potential, we got 1 each of four different types of tacos: Al Pastor, Barbacoa, Pollo Guisado, and Beef Fajita. The rich and tender barbacoa was my favorite, followed by pollo guisado. First noted differences between San Diego and Texas mexican food? The emphasis on tacos rather than burritos in Texas, defaulting to flour tortillas instead of corn for the tacos, and the salsas in Texas were less chile-based than in San Diego.

tacoxpress_food

First taco fix complete, we headed over to our hotel, the Mansion at Judges’ Hill to get settled and plot the rest of our day. The hotel was all decked out for the holidays, and the courtyard reminded me a little bit of all the off-street courtyards dotting New Orleans.

hotel_2

hotel_1

After researching our music options for the evening, we headed out to wander around downtown, and made our way to Casino El Camino for dinner. (This place was featured by Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It was a very Food Network day for us.) There, We split a Amarillo burger (with roasted chiles, chipotle mayo, and pepperjack cheese) and some chili cheese fries, and enjoyed some brewed-in-Texas Shiner Bock. The burger was ok, but the chili cheese fries were excellent! After dinner we headed over to the Amsterdam Cafe for our Austin music experience, choosing an intimate performance by two singer/songwriters, Jackie Bristow, just settling into Austin from New Zealand via Los Angeles, and Elizabeth Wills, returning to Austin from Colorado. We had a lot of fun at the show, as both singers shared stories and inspiration as they performed, and the folk/country music was well suited to the small setting.

Jackie Bristow

Jackie Bristow

Elizabeth Wills

Elizabeth Wills

On Sunday, we woke bright and early (just kidding, we slept in til about 9!), and headed out to breakfast – tacos again! This time, we went to Torchy’s Tacos, which I discovered in the Austin Chronicle’s Best Of Austin awards. The goal of this visit was breakfast tacos, plus the Green Chili Queso  that won raves from the Chronicle. For good measure, I added a fried avocado taco to our order, just because I’ve never seen those on a menu before!

Torchy's Green Chili Queso

Torchys Green Chili Queso

Bacon and Potato, Fried Avocado

Torchys Tacos: Bacon and Potato, Fried Avocado

The queso was addictive as promised, and the breakfast taco with potato and bacon was sheer yumminess. The fried avocado taco was a bit odd – I tried the avocados by themselves, and can see how that would make a tasty appetizer or garnish, but I think they got a little lost among the lettuce, tomato and cheese piled on top.

We spent Sunday afternoon museum hopping: we visited the O. Henry House museum first, and got a personal tour of the four-room museum. If interior pictures were allowed, there would be many close-ups of wallpaper included below, as the turn-of-century reproduction wallpaper featured at the museum was stylish and fun.

O. Henry House

O. Henry House

We then visited the Austin Museum of Art, where we enjoyed the Texas Chair Project exhibit, featuring 80 different artists who created their own interpretations of a chair – each work was created in 6 months or less, and was required to fit in an 8x8x8 inch box – although some chairs got around this requirement in creative ways!

The Texas Chair Project

The Texas Chair Project

After our museum hopping, we stopped by Lovejoy’s for the first of our Austin-based beer sampling. We tried their Brown Ale (which my extensive tasting notes say was “kind of bitter, a little sour”), and 604 Stout (“dry, buttery flavor/mouthfeel”). Those are some good tasting notes! One of the cool things about Lovejoys was the delightfully weird art adorning the walls. My favorite was “Metamorph”, a large portrait of a sad-looking girl with antlers, but “Batalope” was fun too. From the Austin Chronicle:

BART FARAR: JACKALOPE MYSTERY THEATRE Recent works by this excellent artist in watercolor, ink, and pencil on wood. Reception: Wed., Nov. 5, 6-8pm. Exhibition: Through Nov. 30. Lovejoys, 604 Neches

We also headed down to the Congress Avenue Bridge to try to see the famous bat emergence, but unfortunately most of them seem to have migrated south for the winter already.

From the Congress Street Bridge at Twilight

From the Congress Street Bridge at Twilight

Following our failed bat-watching adventure, we headed south of the city to The Salt Lick, a barbecue joint and our second stop in Rachael Ray’s footsteps for the trip. Eating at the Salt Lick, I am both happy and sad to report, was my first Barbecue-In-Texas-is-infinitely-better-than-in-San-Diego experience.

Yum-O! at the Salt Lick

Yum-O! at the Salt Lick

I had the three-meat plate, so I got to sample all of their deliciously smoked goodies. The brisket was pretty good, but my favorites were the sausage and pork ribs – the ribs especially were amazingly tender and tasty – the meat was so good that I used hardly any bbq sauce (although both flavors were rather tasty – more savory/tart than the sweeter sauces that are more common in SD). The homemade pickles were also good, and so was the blackberry cobbler we shared for desert. It’s a little bit out of town, but the Salt Lick is definitely worth a visit.

After sleeping off our barbecue coma, we woke up on Monday morning ready for some breakfast and shopping! First things first – coffee and a full southern breakfast. We headed over to Hoover’s Cooking, another find from the Austin Chronicle “Best of Austin” lists.The Chronicle was touting the “hoe cakes” – pancakes made with cornmeal in the batter – so of course I had to get those:

Hoe Cakes and Grits

Hoovers Cooking: Hoe Cakes and Grits

Plus (since I don’t know when I’ll next be in the south) it seemed like the perfect time to try grits, so I got an order of the Cheddar Garlic Grits (plus bacon. breakfast is always better with bacon). So that we could sample a wider variety of Hoover’s tempting pancakes, Chuck got Chicken ‘n’ Cakes, with sweet potato pancakes:

sweet potato pancakes and fried chicken

Hoovers Cooking: sweet potato pancakes and fried chicken

I did like the hoe cakes, but the sweet potato pancakes stole the show – they were rich and lightly sweet, and though I’m not sure I would identify the sweet potato by flavor, they were tastier than the average pancake. The grits were tasty too, although the garlicy kick threatened to overwhelm. I balanced it out with a little tabasco mix-in for a spicy garlic treat. (verdict on grits: they’re like cream of wheat, but with corn. they’re good spicy, would probably be ok with some brown sugar or maple syrup too (just not at the same time as garlic!)).

After breakfast, we went to the University of Texas co-op, where they sell EVERYTHING you can dream of, branded with a Texas Longhorn theme. Seriously – Jansport backpacks, Nike golf gear, cowboy boots, doggy sweaters, even crocs! – they’re all Texan now! The Caltech bookstore, I am sad to say, cannot compete.

Moo!

Moo!

After the co-op, we headed to local bookseller BookPeople – a little bit smaller than Powell’s in Portland, but also less overwhelming! We browsed around for probably two hours, and I limited myself to only two books, both Texas-related (but I put a lot more on my Christmas wishlist as a result!).

My BookPeople Bounty

My BookPeople Bounty

Next stop: more barbecue! For lunch we went to Lamberts Barbecue in downtown Austin. They call it “fancy barbecue”, and use interesting spice rubs for a fun twist on Texas classics. Between the two of us, we sampled the brisket, beef ribs, and pork ribs (plus mac and cheese). I didn’t write down my beer selection there, but I *think* it was a Live Oak IPA (or maybe the (512) IPA – tasting notes fail!) – in any case, it was a good IPA from one of the local breweries, and a good pairing with the barbecue.

Beef ribs and brisket at Lamberts

Beef ribs and brisket at Lamberts

As much as I loved the pork ribs at the Salt Lick, I think the beef ribs at Lamberts were my favorite meat of the trip – so tender, with incredibly rich flavor. Really, everything there was good, and in a barbecue-induced ecstasy I decided that I should live in Texas (maybe if i live there I can even keep an okapi in my backyard! I hear the wildlife regulations aren’t quite as strict…).

And then, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the final Rachael Ray stop on the trip, the moment I’ve been dreaming about ever since that fateful $40-a-day episode: Allens Boots! I’ve been intending to buy cowboy boots for a while, and since we were going to Texas anyway, it only seemed natural to get them there…

allens_1

Row upon row of boots!

With an almost endless expanse of boots, it was a little bit overwhelming to pick just one pair! After trying on a few, I finally picked the most perfect ones, although I’d be happy to make Allens Boots a birthday tradition!

My boots! Plus some jewelry...

My boots! Plus some jewelry...

As you can see above, I also got some jewelry at the Museum of Art to round out my “Happy Birthday to Me” presents. I like jewelry from museum shops – they always have stuff from fun local artists. And, I like cowboy boots!

Shopping mission accomplished, barbecue and tacos consumed, and an early morning flight waiting for us the next morning, the last thing to check off our Austin itinerary was a stop at the Draught House pub and brewery. A little bit north of the city, the Draft House has dozens of beers on tap, and is the perfect destination for sampling the local brews.

(512) Pecan Porter

(512) Pecan Porter

My tasting notes from DraughtHouse:

  • (512) Pecan Porter: this was the one local beer I was really hoping to try, and my excitement was well rewarded! My notes say “pecan scent, rich flavor”, but my remembered happiness is greater than that succinct description. It was my favorite of the evening.
  • Saint Arnold Christmas Ale: “Christmas-y, copper”. Note to self: take better notes. I only had a few sips of this one, but “Christmas-y”  means “good”.

    Pepperoni Jalapeno Pizza, Double IPA and Century Stout

    Pepperoni Jalapeno Pizza, Double IPA and Century Stout

  • Draught House Double IPA: “sweet scent/flavor, crisp bitterness, lingering bitter aftertaste”. If I remember correctly, not as flowery as a typical West Coast double – maybe different hops are used to give it the sweet scent insead.
  • Draught House Century Stout: “strong coffee aroma; dry, strong roasted flavor”
  • Oskar Blues Ten-Fidy Imperial Stout: ok, so Oskar Blues is in Colorado, but how you can dis someone who says “It’s time we mess with Texas”? I remembered Oskar Blues from last year’s Stone Anniversary festival, and since I haven’t seen it on draught in San Diego, ten-fidy was fair game. And, totally worth it. The extensive tasting notes say: “roasted coffee flavor, sweeter than Century”…really, these were all good beers, and I’m glad we got to try them. I think my pocket notebook would be improved if it had beer-tasting templates instead of blank sheets of paper. Someone should invent that.
Chuck enjoys hos Christmas Ale

Chuck enjoys his Christmas Ale

So there you have it – two and a half days, seven tacos, barbecue, beer, books, and boots! (but no bats!)  We had a great weekend in Austin, and I want to go again!

 

 
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